Warren Haynes presents The Benefit, volume II – various artists
Evil Teen Records 10019-2
Let's get to the point of why Warren Haynes' annual Christmas Jam and,
now, this two-disc live set from the 2000 version exist. It's to benefit
for Humanity, the international non-profit organization dedicated to
affordable housing for those in need of decent shelter. You may know the
charity by its most prominent representative, former president Jimmy Carter.
For that alone, you should buy Warren Haynes presents The Benefit, volume
II. Consider it a donation. Instead of receiving the equivalent of a
from PBS, you'll get these two discs of live material from Warren Haynes,
Mule, the Chris Duarte Band, the Bottle Rockets, a vintage era Aquarium
Rescue Unit reunion, Blues Traveler's John Popper, Drivin' n' Cryin's
Kevn Kinney, the Allman Brothers Band, plus other special
In December 2000, the memory of Gov't Mule bassist Allen Woody's death was
still fresh on the musicians' minds, and their sorrow is brought up through
and introductions. One particularly senses the reverence during a rendition
Shall Be Released" featuring Woody's Gov't Mule mate Haynes along with
Kinney and Edwin McCain. Dedications to Woody, as well as
Blues Traveler's then recently passed Bobby Sheehan precede previous
Even with its truncated setlists, The Benefit does a nice job to
emulating the camaraderie and spirit of the evening's music. I bring
this up because the transitions are rarely as smooth as they are when John
Popper finishes Blues Traveler's "Alone" and finds himself suddenly aiding
Kinney on an acoustic version of Drivin' n' Cryin's "Scarred But Smarter."
The opening two acoustic tracks by Warren Haynes are so devastatingly
beautiful that I just did not want to move on for awhile.
Finally I did, and as much as I like Chris Duarte, "Badness" suffers
from the shadow of Haynes' performances. Going from emotionally invested
acoustic numbers to badass electric blues-rock is too much like moving from
a sitting position to thrusting forward at 100 miles per hour. Matters
during Duarte's second contribution, "Who Knows."
For the uninitiated, a sonic glimpse of Aquarium Rescue Unit reveals the
roller-coaster improvisational abilities of musical messengers Bruce
Herring, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Sipe.
Following an acoustic performance by Haynes and Gregg Allman, the festivites
are finished off with a few tunes by the Allman Brothers
Band. The Allmans put together a brief, solid set.
Who could ever complain with the inclusion of "Soulshine" and "Statesboro
The overall strengths of The Benefit, volume II are the parts that
the whole endeavor. Individually, the songs can't help but make one wish
had a free night to attend the annual charity event in Asheville, North
Carolina. Feel good about yourself as you listen to these moments of time
having to lift a finger, let alone a hammer.